‘Legend’ Marcelo to leave as Real Madrid’s most decorated player

'Legend' Marcelo to leave as Real Madrid's most decorated player

Marcelo will leave Real Madrid as the club’s all-time most decorated player, fifteen years after arriving with the goal of succeeding Roberto Carlos.

When the 34-year-old won his sixth La Liga trophy last month, he surpassed Paco Gento, who won six European Cups in the 1950s and 1960s, and he added to his tally of 25 trophies with a fifth Champions League victory when Real Madrid beat Liverpool on Saturday.

“It’s an incredible emotion because it’s my last game at Real Madrid,” said Marcelo after that 1-0 victory in Paris. “Leaving with a Champions League is a huge joy. It isn’t a sad day.”

Despite not featuring in the final, Marcelo was animated on the touchline as Real closed out a 14th European Cup triumph and then lifted the trophy, before also leading the celebrations at the Plaza de Cibeles on Sunday.

The left-back draped a flag and a scarf over the goddess at the fountain of Cybele, where Real traditionally celebrate titles with their fans, before hoisting the trophy aloft in front of thousands of supporters.

“It is a wonderful moment in my life. I close a cycle here, in the best club in the world,” added Marcelo, who said he dreamed of lifting the trophy after replacing Sergio Ramos as captain this season.

“Today is not a day of sadness, but a day of joy because we have once again won the best championship in the world. I am very proud of myself and so is my family. We have lived many magical nights together.

“I tell you one thing, the future of Madrid is very good with the young players. Hala Madrid!”

When Real Madrid enticed the 19-year-old Marcelo to join them from Fluminense in January 2007, former president Ramon Calderon praised him as a “jewel that half of Europe wanted,” adding that he was ready to take over if Roberto Carlos left.

Marcelo looked up to the explosive Brazilian, who had been the team’s first-choice left-back for a decade. “To me, he was God,” the protege explained. “I couldn’t believe I was on the same team as him and in the same position.”

Marcelo recalls the veteran player approaching him on his first day in Madrid, handing him his phone number and saying, “You need anything, call me.”

That summer, Roberto Carlos moved to Fenerbahce, and since then, he has stated Marcelo has improved his game.

Indeed, he went on to make almost 500 appearances for Real, usually as an attacking left-back but also as a winger, winning not just La Liga but also four Club World Cups, three European Super Cups, five Spanish Super Cups, and the Copa del Rey thrice.

Not only his countryman and former teammate Roberto Carlos, but also renowned AC Milan and Italy left-back Paolo Maldini, praised him.

Marcelo’s playing time has dropped in recent seasons, with the skipper appearing only 18 times in all competitions this season, according to former Real Madrid defender Fernando Hierro.

“It is true Marcelo is a player that was going to replace Roberto Carlos, no less, which wasn’t easy,” explained Hierro. “And of course today he is the most celebrated player of Real Madrid.

“Marcelo is always a very special player. He brings a lot of joy, creativity to the game and is a very nice player to watch – and he is a nice guy as well, very friendly and a lovely person. I am really glad he is the most decorated player in the history of the club.”

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has described Marcelo as “a legend and my friend” – and the defender suggested it might not be the last time he is seen at the Bernabeu.

“I have to do something with this club. I will come back,” said Marcelo. “I have some football left, but then I will come back – I will come back to Real Madrid one day.”

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